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Maui Drug Court Celebrates Five Grads

Posted on Mar 1, 2023 in Featured News, News & Reports, Press Releases
Image of From left, Associate Justice Michael Wilson, Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr., Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza (Ret.), Judge Kelsey Kawano, Judge James Rouse, Chief Judge Shackley Raffetto (Ret.), and Chief Judge Peter Cahill with graduates and a family member.

From left, Associate Justice Michael Wilson, Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr., Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza (Ret.), Judge Kelsey Kawano, Judge James Rouse, Chief Judge Shackley Raffetto (Ret.), and Chief Judge Peter Cahill with graduates and a family member.

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Three women and two men were recognized by the Honorable Kelsey T. Kawano for their fulfillment of Drug Court completion requirements on February 16. It was a post-Valentine’s Day event full of heartfelt gratitude for these graduates, and those who helped them throughout their arduous journey.

Judge Kawano presided over his seventh graduation final status hearing and congratulated these women and men. Also there to honor members of the 81st graduating class were Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson, Chief Judge Peter T. Cahill, Judge James R. Rouse, Chief Judge Shackley F. Raffetto (Ret.), Chief Judge Joseph E. Cardoza (Ret.), and Mayor and retired Chief Judge Richard T. Bissen, Jr. Four active participants in Maui Drug Court were involved in the event as program distributors, emcee, and lei greeter.

Justice Wilson expressed the respect he felt for the effort each of the graduates exerted to complete the program. He also recognized the Maui Drug Court judges who helped him during his own prior tenure as a judge with treatment courts in the First Circuit.

Mayor Bissen thanked the graduates for their accomplishments. He humorously closed by stating he always wanted to say, “On behalf of the people of the County of Maui ……. congratulations!”

Before the graduates came up to speak, Kawika Ortiz sang his rendition of “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” with an additional verse he wrote for them.

The graduates offered speeches and remembered how much their lives changed for the better since entering Drug Court. One of the men spoke to the manager of the sober living program in the audience and said his aloha to her for how she helped shape his path toward recovery.

Maui Drug Court has 708 graduates, and Molokai Drug Court has 40 graduates. The combined programs of Maui Drug Court and Moloka’i Drug Court have admitted 1,471 individuals since the first admission hearing in August 2000.

Image of David "Kawika" Ortiz, Second Circuit Program Specialist, serenading the audience with "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World".

David “Kawika” Ortiz, Second Circuit Program Specialist, serenading the graduates and guests with “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”.

For more information, contact the Communications and Community Relations Office at 808-539-4909 or via email at pao@courts.hawaii.gov.

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